It took an entire season for the Northern Illinois Wolfpack to lose a game, and now they face a stiff challenge in the S.D. County Poinsettia Bowl betting matchup as they challenge a well balanced team from Utah State. At 12-1 SU and 8-4 ATS, the Wolfpack had one of the best records in the entire country. They also had one of the nation’s most exciting players.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch was invited to the Heisman ceremony in New York, losing to eventual winner Jameis Winston of FSU, but it was nice for the trust to notice his hard work. Lynch ended the year with a 4,557 total yards earned from scrimmage, combining that with 45 total touchdowns. Those are big time numbers from a diminutive quarterback who stands at six foot even and just over 215 pounds. He also threw just 7 picks.
Northern Illinois’s quarterback rushed for the second most yards in the entire country. With his unique playmaking ability, the Wolfpack generated a whopping 535.5 yards of offence along with 41.6 points per game, which placed them in the top-10 in both stat categories. His surreal gifts should make Northern Illinois a strong take in Poinsettia Bowl betting, but as you can tell, that is not the case.
A big reason is that Utah State has a terrific defense. The Aggies allowed just 17.3 points per game this season, good enough for 7th in the country, and they did that in a stacked scoring conference that featured vaunted offences like Fresno, Boise and San Jose State. This team usually gave strong offensive teams a good fight, though they’ve never faced a dynamic runner like Lynch, so that’s why the Poinsettia Bowl betting line is so shallow. Utah State’s defense frequently imposed their will on the opposition, and their offence was very strong as well, totaling 420.9 yards and 32.6 points per game.
Teams that can grind out the clock and stay on the field can beat Northern Illinois by imprisoning Lynch on the sidelines. The Wolfpack’s quarterback, and their 12-0 run during the regular season, made this team a must-watch entity in college football, but their defense was an embarrassment. The Wolf Pack surrendered 423.9 yards per game, though they were relatively efficient in the red zone. NIU gave up 25.4 points per game.
So as much as I love watching Lynch, I have to give Utah State the benefit of the doubt here. Their offence is well balanced, can grind up the clock and keep Lynch away from the field longer than most teams. That’s how Bowling Green toppled NIU in the MAC Championship game, and I suspect Utah State will do the very same as Poinsettia Bowl underdogs.